Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tribalism

By tribalism I mean the fact that classical Judaism considers itself the religion of a certain people - not a universal religion.

The downside of this idea is that in some denominations of Judaism there is a clear attitude of superiority to non-Jews. The whole "chosen people" thing when taken too far can degenerate into a sort of racism. Taken to it's most extreme form some Chareidim consider "pure Jews" better than converts when it comes to arranging marriages etc. (Of course they won't admit it but everyone knows)

The upside is that in theory Judaism is more tolerant than other religions (at least the other Monotheistic ones). Christianity and Islam classically present themselves as religions incumbent on EVERY human being. Judaism on the other hand has a much more limited scope - it is only obligatory for Jews - and non-Jews only have to keep the 7 Noachide Laws. (Which are a breeze!)

So I don't know what's more harmful a universal religion which says - if you're not with us you're going to Hell! Or a national religion which says - if you're not part of our nation you're a donkey with the discharge of a horse!

Take your pick.

9 comments:

gamzoo said...

how about a third choice such as some of the Eastern religions (Buddhism, Taoism) which are universal and accepting of other faiths

Shilton HaSechel said...

I really know almost nothing about Eastern religions so I can't say

gamzoo said...

okay. Just imagine a religion which is both universal and accepting of other practices and beliefs. Wouldn't that be preferable to a tribal religion which looks down at other groups and a universal religion that demands you believe what they do. The Quakers, I think, fit into this third category. Liberal Judaism does too.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Well I obviously prefer non-fundamentalist non-exclusive religion which accepts other beliefs as legitimate

But I'm asking about these two types of fundamentalist belief.

the question is given Scylla and Charybdis which is better.

Tamir said...

The downside of this idea is that in some denominations of Judaism there is a clear attitude of superiority to non-Jews.

What about universal religions, like Christianity or Islam ?
Don't they "a clear attitude of superiority" towards no-believers ?

The whole "chosen people" thing when taken too far can degenerate into a sort of racism.

So can universal religions "degenerate into a sort of racism".

Medieval Spain is a prime example: persecuting non-believers( Jews and Muslims) and eventually expelling them, to say nothing of their treatment of the Native Americans under their rule. All in the name of( Catholic) Christianity.

Taken to it's most extreme form some Chareidim consider "pure Jews" better than converts when it comes to arranging marriages etc.

How about how Spaniards "of pure Christian blood" considered Conversos ?

And, as an aside:
(Of course they won't admit it but everyone knows)

I don't know that this is, strictly speaking, true.

I remember reading in a book( I don't remember it name, but only that it was a collection of opinion articles published in a Charedi newspaper, purportedly by a Charedi Rav) an article admitting to, and defending, the Charedim not wanting to marry converts. It cites, amongst others, a Gemara that alludes that non of the many Gerim( or their descendants) that Avraham Avinu converted remained "Jewish".

Tamir said...

from my last comment: Don't they "a clear attitude of superiority" towards no-believers ?

that should have read:
"Don't they have 'a clear attitude of superiority' towards non-believers ?"

Shilton HaSechel said...

Tamir,

As usual you have some excellent points. I suppose I was thinking more about the modern era than the Middle Ages when the Christians were not exactly kind to those who didn't agree with them.

I would think that nowadays Heavy Christians would be more accepting of converts than Chareidim but I don't know.

I wrote in haste, I definitely need to rethink this one...

What you mention about geirim is hauntingly reminiscent of the Spanish attitude to Conversos i.e. that they weren't sincere and would revert back to Judaism.

Tamir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shalmo said...

Personally, when one investigates all 3 abrahamic faiths, I think geniunely Judaism comes of as the most primitive.

There are orthodox jew who as we speak are likely debating whether or not gentiles even have souls. The whole 7 laws of Noah stuff was invented by the rabbis as way of mediating superiority over gentiles. The thinking goes Noah's people fell into ruin because they only had these 7 laws, but we Jews are superior because we have 613 of them. Furthermore note that the Rambam in his Law of Kings makes it clear that not only is it impossible for a non-jew to be pious, its also forbidden for him to follow any religion aside from the 7 Noachide laws.

You may criticize Christianity for saying only believers in Jesus get to heaven. But how different is that than Judaism claiming all Israel has a guaranteed share in Olam Haba, you can be a rapist, a pedophile, but so long as you have jewish blood you have a share in heaven.

As for Islam, I think you read more. The Quran itself speaks on multiple paths to God. Muslims believe all paths are in actuality the same, every religion or path is some form of manifestation of Islam. That prophets were sent to all nations, and that all people are inherant in their ability to manifest the Names of God no matter what path they choose. They don't believe their religion is the only way, but they do believe its the best one there is.

The Catholic Church, while it used to believe only it is correct, has now accepted a position similar to the muslims as well. They believe all religions can lead to the truth, simply that the Catholic Church is the best arbitrator of it.

Hinduism and the eastern religion go one step further and accept all paths as completely equal fonts of salvation.

But more importantly, none of these religions claim they are a light unto the gentiles. They accept everyone, including their own adherants as sinners. Judaism is the only religion that seems to have a superiority complex.

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